Royal Naval Biography/Gould, Davidge

Vice-Admiral of the Red; and Knight Commander of the most honourable Military Order of the Bath.

At the close of the American war, this officer commanded the Pachahunter, fire-vessel, on the Jamaica station. His post commission bears date Mar. 25, 1789. During the Spanish and Russian armaments, we find him in the Brune frigate, at the Leeward Islands; and at the commencement of hostilities against the French republic he was appointed to the Cyclops, in which vessel he served at the reduction of Corsica[1]. His next appointment appears to have been to the Bedford, a 74-gun ship, one of Vice-Admiral Hotham’s fleet, in the skirmishes of March 14 , and July 13, 1795; on which former occasion, she had 7 men slain and 18 wounded[2]. In the following year Captain Gould was removed into the Audacious, of 74 guns; but nothing worth recording appears to have taken place until the summer of 1798, when he accompanied Sir Horatio Nelson, in quest of the formidable armament which had sailed from Toulon under General Buonaparte, on the 20th May.

An account of the famous battle fought in Aboukir Bay has already been given in our memoir of Sir James Saumarez[3]. We therefore content ourselves with observing, that the Audacious was the fourth ship that doubled the van of the French line, and brought up on the Conquerant’s bow, where Captain Gould commenced a spirited and galling fire. After the action he proceeded down the Mediterranean, in company with the division under Sir James Saumarez, and part of the prizes. The loss sustained by the Audacious was 1 man killed, and 35 wounded. She was afterwards employed in the blockade of Malta, and assisted at the capture of the Genereux, of 74 guns, Feb. 18, 1800[4], at the latter end of which year she returned to England.

In the spring of J801, Captain Gould was appointed to the Majestic, a third rate, attached to the Channel fleet. Early in the following year, he was ordered to the West Indies; from whence he returned in the ensuing autumn, and the Majestic was paid off at Plymouth on the 3d of October.

The last ship Captain Gould commanded was the Windsor Castle, of 98 guns, stationed off Brest during the years 1804 and 1805. He was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral, Oct. 2, 1807; became a Vice-Admiral, July 31, 1810; and on the 7th June, 1815, was nominated a K.C.B.

Sir Davidge married, June 20, 1803, the eldest daughter of the Rev. Archdeacon Willes.

  1. See p. 252.
  2. On the 9th March, 1795, Vice-Admiral Hotham sailed from Leghorn Roads with his squadron, consisting of four 3-deckers, seven 74’s, two 64’s, four frigates, two sloops, and a cutter, accompanied by a Neapolitan 74, and two frigates. The French fleet of which he was in pursuit, though soon descried by the British advanced vessels, was not seen by the line-of-battle ships till the 12th, when it was discovered to windward, consisting of one 3-decker, three 80’s, eleven 74’s, and three frigates. During the ensuing night, the Mercure, of 74 guns, lost her main top-mast in a squall, and parted company.

    On the morning of the 13th, the enemy being still to windward, without shewing any intention of coming down, the British Commander made the signal for a general chace. In the course of this, the French 80-gun ship Ca Ira, carried away her fore and main top-masts, which afforded to Captain Freemantle, in the Inconstant frigate, then far to windward of the British line, an opportunity of raking her with great effect. He was after some time seconded by Captain Nelson in the Agamemnon, who effectually disabled her; but, as the two ships were now at a great distance from their own fleet, and were approached by several of the enemy, who pressed on to the succour of their consort, they were obliged to abandon her, and she was immediately taken in tow by one of the ships that came to her assistance. In the mean time a partial firing had been kept up, between the Bedford and Egmont, 74’s, and the three rear-most French ships, one of which mounted 120 guns; but the action terminated for that day, after the Agamemnon bore up. In the succeeding night the French 3-decker parted company, by which the British obtained a manifest superiority, having now, including the Neapolitan 74, fourteen ships of the line, rated at 1114 guns, opposed to thirteen ships and 980 guns.

    At day break on the 14th, Genoa then bearing N.E. distant about 20 miles, the disabled ship, and that which had her in tow, were seen to leeward of their own squadron. At about half-past six, Captains Gould and Reeve, in the Bedford and Captain, stood for and engaged them; whilst the Courageux, Illustrious, and other advanced ships, kept the enemy’s van at bay. The action ended in the capture of the Ca Ira and Censeur, the latter a 74-gun ship, and both crowded with troops. Their united loss was between 300 and 400 men. On board the British squadron 73 were killed and 275 wounded; the Neapolitans had only 1 slain and 9 wounded.

    The damage sustained by his van ships, particularly the Illustrious and Courageux, prevented Vice-Admiral Hotham attempting a renewal of the engagement. The Illustrious was afterwards wrecked in Valence Bay; but providentially her crew, together with a part of her stores, were saved.

    An account of the still more trivial action of July 13th, in the same year, will be found at p. 254.

  3. See p. 180.
  4. See Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Berry.